Teeth whitening have been carried out in the USA for approx 20 years and for over a decade in the UK. Carried out properly, it is safe, pain-free, and provides a simple and lasting aesthetic benefit.
There are two principal methods by which teeth can be whitened. They are best described as At Home Whitening and In-Surgery Whitening. To achieve the ultimate in whiter teeth it is sometimes best to use a combination of the above methods.
Suitability for tooth whitening
Nearly everyone with healthy teeth and gums is suitable for a course of tooth whitening. However, to ensure that whitening is pain-free and to select the most appropriate method for any given individual it is important that a full and thorough assessment of the dentition is first undertaken. At this consultation visit the available options and your individual needs are discussed in detail and the most appropriate course of whitening is jointly determined between patient and dentist.
Certain conditions affecting the teeth, such as Tetracycline staining, will require determined and longer whitening schedules whilst natural browning/yellowing or age related darkening is usually quick and simple to reverse.
At-Home Tooth Whitening
Impressions of the teeth are first taken. From these moulds the laboratory can construct custom-made whitening trays (Gouttieres) specific for each individual. An appropriate whitening agent is then placed inside the trays which are then worn over the teeth for a period of time. The type and concentration of whitening agent, the original color of the teeth, and the desired end result all determine how long the trays are worn. Typically, the trays are worn overnight for a period of 14-21 days although this varies considerably.
In-Surgery Tooth Whitening
There are many methods to achieve a whiter smile in the dental chair. All the available methods do however, follow a similar pattern: Firstly, the gums are protected by barrier membrane. Specially formulated whitening agents are then applied to the teeth. Some of these agents require laser-light activation, others activate upon contact with the tooth. Once the course has been completed the protective membrane is peeled off to reveal whiter teeth. The whole process takes about an hour to complete.